Tête en bas

Down under wandering. Archipelagoes to islands; beaches to deserts; mountains to cities.

School of the air

  • English: School of the air
  • Français: School of the air

It didn’t take long to Paul, Steve and Trish to understand my inertia, to understand that I like to take my time. They started joking at me during the pizza evening, telling that I would still be there on wednesday. Well, with the car completely full, our stuff absolutely everywhere, and no real sign of us wanting to do anything, I can understand. But I was still saying that we were going to leave at 11. I was not that bad in my forecast, as we finally leave the bloc at 11:45.

We didn’t leave Alice Springs immediately though. We had a last quick stop to do, after the grocery. Visiting the “School of the air”.

The school first started on the 8th of june 1951, guided by Adelaide Miethke, who was thinking that children living in remote area were laking social contact. Radio would make them able to have a better community feeling, as a part of there education. Because when you live a 1000 kilometers from the closest school, you can’t really think about going to school everyday…

The school in Alice was the first of its kind, but others followed later on. Covering 1,300,000 square kilometers (10 times england). Children can start the school at the age of 4 and a half until they turn 13. After that, if they want to go on, they have to leave there parents place, our follow school by mail.

They usually live in cattle station, aboriginal community, touristic place, national park, military bases, or are traveling with there family. In order to be part of the school of the air, you must live at least 50 kilometers from the closest school.

Teachers follow a 3 weeks formation, during which they learn to use all the equipment (with internet and all new technology, school knew a big change) but also learn to drive a 4WD. Because once a year, teacher visits all his student at there home. At the same time, the school organize three or four times a year, one week meetings. Also, when the families are in town, kids are invited to follow there lesson at the school.

And joining the school, children receive all the material they will need, for a total value of up to 15,000$. Of course, everything as to be given back at the end of the school. The school require a budget only 3 times higher than a normal school. As a public school, it provides exactly the same formation than any other school.

If the teaching was first made via radio, with works sending by mail every second week, internet changed a lot the way the school was going. All the children go online together, following there teacher via a webcam. The teacher, on his side, as a couple of camera, in order to be able to show explanation on a blackboard, or to show books, objects… formation also include general teaching, like cooking, music…

We then live Alice Springs for real, driving up to the Devils Marble, where we were planning to spend the night.

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